Being in a car accident is frightening enough alone, but being hit by a semi-truck can make the situation even more dangerous and overwhelming.
Who will you hold accountable for your injuries and damages? Is it the individual driver or the company? Is that driver an independent contractor or one employed by the trucking company?
All of these items factor into how a trucking accident claim involving a semi-truck is handled.
Who To Sue
There are a couple options when faced with this situation.
Many drivers work as independent contractors who own their own trucks. So, one could go after the individual driver to seek damages for your accident.
However, if the driver is acting in a capacity as an employee of the company, you should also go after the trucking company for damages.
Employers are normally liable for negligence committed by an employee in the course and scope of his or her employment.
If an employee causes an accident, the employer should be held liable.
Many truck drivers technically work for themselves.
Companies will hire out independent contractors to drive their merchandise or product across the country. If you have been injured by the actions of an independent contractor, then suing the individual trucker will be a proper course of action.
That person is acting in his own capacity as employee and employer. However, you should also examine whether that contractor is also the truck’s owner.
If someone else owns the truck and the driver is merely driving it, you also may have the option of going after the owner of the truck.
If the driver or the owner has his or her own corporation or limited liability company, you should also pursue said companies.
In most circumstances, the company that hires an independent contractor would not be responsible for that person’s negligence, but it can depend on what is in the written agreement.
Many agreements will have clauses saying that the company is not responsible for the independent driver’s negligence.
However, if the company has control over the actions of the driver, and that is in the contract, a loophole might open allowing someone seeking damages to sue the company as well.
Suing the trucking company
At the end of the day, victims of a car or trucking accident want to be paid compensation for their injuries.
Although it seems that going after the individual who was physically caused the accident would make the most sense, it is very likely that person has no more money than you do.
Your chances of receiving full and fair compensation dramatically increase if you can pursue relief from the company employing the driver.
Trucking laws and regulations
Laws that govern trucking are specific.
Many times drivers exceed the number of hours they are permitted to drive and falsify their mandatory driving “logs”.
When this happens, victims are entitled claim “punitive” damages in addition to damages for their injuries.
It is important you talk with an attorney who is well-versed in federal and state trucking laws and regulations, such as Don Yearin.
In Becker v CSR, Don received a judgment of 7.5 million in a trucking case where the driver was suspected of exceeding the permissible number of driving hours during a 24-hour period.
Drivers are also known to take illegal substances such as amphetamines to keep them awake when driving excessive hours. This was also the case in Becker v CSR.
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